Response Rates for Mail Surveys of Nonprofit Organizations: A Review and Empirical Test

Mark A. Hager, Sarah Wilson, Thomas H. Pollak, Patrick Michael Rooney
  • Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, June 2003, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0899764003032002005

Response Rates for Mail Surveys of Nonprofit Organizations

What is it about?

The failure of a substantial portion of mail survey recipients to respond to invitations to participate in research projects raises issues of nonresponse error. Because this error is dif- ficult to quantify, survey researchers seek high rates of return to signal legitimacy and reduce questions regarding nonresponse bias. Research on survey method indicates that the design of the survey research process has a measurable influence on the rate of survey returns. This article focuses on three aspects of research design that are expected to influ- ence mail survey returns in surveys of nonprofit organizations: questionnaire complex- ity, use of Federal Express versus standard mail, and the use of monetary incentives. Using an experimental design, the research concludes that questionnaire complexity and the use of monetary incentives generate no difference in returns, whereas the use of Fed - eral Express to deliver the survey to nonprofit executives has a measurable positive effect

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